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Brazil were victorious in their 2022 World Cup opener as Richarlison scored both goals in a 2-0 win against Serbia at the Lusail Stadium.
The tournament favourites found it tough going in the first-half – struggling to fashion many chances – as Serbia impressed with their dogged work-rate and excellent defensive shape.
But Brazil were a different side in the second-half and found the breakthrough when Richarlison was first to pounce after Vinicius Jr.’s shot was saved in the 62nd minute.
Yet the Tottenham striker’s second was outstanding: controlling with composure in the box, he struck a terrific scissor kick into the bottom-corner to give his country all three points.
Here are how the Brazil and Serbia players rated in their Group G opener:
Alisson – 6
Won an early duel in the air with Aleksandar Mitrovic – who got the better of him for Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League this season – and was his usual composed self. Went largely untroubled throughout the 90 minutes.
Danilo – 6
Largely anonymous early on. Could have charged up in support of Raphinha more, particularly in comparison to Alex Sandro’s work on the other flank, but seemed largely content with staying put. Made a pivotal goal-line clearance from a corner in the 70th minute.
Thiago Silva (c) – 7
The 38-year-old was dominant in his battle with Mitrovic and continues to lead this side brilliantly. Marshalled the defence with assuredness and even threaded some lovely passes forward too.
Marquinhos – 6
Confident in his passing and positioning, the PSG defender did not put a foot wrong alongside Silva and coped with both the sole threat of Mitrovic and the tag team of the Fulham man alongside Dusan Vlahovic.
Alex Sandro – 7
Rifled the foot of the post as Brazil pressed for a breakthrough with a powerful left-foot strike from long-range and did well to get up and support Vinicius in front of him. Excellent performance.
Alex Sandro rifled the post as Brazil chased an opening goal
Casemiro – 7
Controlled the tempo in the middle and delivered some terrific passes into the box. Tested the Serbia keeper with a fierce shot midway through the first-half and maintained his usual knack of being in the right place at the right time as Serbia pushed throughout the second-half. Also came close to a stunning goal with a curling effort which smacked the crossbar late on.
Lucas Paqueta – 6
Exquisitely played in Raphinha in the first-half and got a crucial foot in on numerous occasions on the rare occasions Serbia looked to break. The West Ham man did his starting chances in this tournament no harm at all.
Neymar – 6
Tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck, with mixed results. From almost scoring from a corner early on to flashes of individual brilliance, Selecao’s star was at the heart of Brazil’s attacking play. Couldn’t convert a difficult opportunity behind him just after half-time and mellowed as the second-half progressed. Was substituted with 15 to go, perhaps nursing an ankle problem.
Neymar tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck, with mixed results
Vinicius Jr. – 7
Looked extremely bright early on and his snap shot led to Richarlison’s opener. Didn’t always get his own way against Andrija Zivkovic on the left but also created the second goal and his pace made him a constant outlet.
Raphinha – 5
Spurned Brazil’s best opening in the first-half, tamely shooting straight at the goalkeeper after a delightful one-two with Paqueta, and also failed to convert in the first minute of the second period when gifted a one-on-one opportunity. With the array of attacking talent on the bench, the Barcelona winger should be worried.
Richarlison – 9
Always such a presence in the yellow of his country, he was first to pounce in the box to break the deadlock and then scored an absolute stunner for his and Brazil’s second. Tremendous, improvised control in the box before nailing a scissor kick into the bottom-corner. 10 goals in his last eight games for his country. Brazil’s leading light.
Richarlison scored a terrific scissor-kick to give Brazil breathing space
Fred – 6
Close to an unlikely goal in the 83rd minute but his shot was well saved.
Rodrigo – 6
Like-for-like replacement for Vinicius on the left, looked lively. Went close with a curling top-corner effort.
Jesus – N/A
Antony – N/A
Gabriel Martinelli – N/A
Vanja Milinkovic-Savic – 7
Superbly denied Vinicius Jr. in the first-half and came to the rescue of his defence at the start of the second, blocking Raphinha’s shot. Could do nothing with Richarlison’s goals and made numerous important late saves to stop the deficit increasing. Deserved better.
Vanja Milinkovic-Savic made a number of impressive saves
Milos Veljkovic – 6
Covered well for his defence when Raphinha headed dangerously into the penalty area on the half-hour mark, though could have reacted sharper for Brazil’s first of the night.
Filip Mladenovic – 6
Coped well in the first-half and the Brazil onslaught ensued after he left the pitch. Subbed around the hour mark.
Strahinja Pavlovic – 6
Sixth-minute booking was somewhat harsh but remained disciplined after that. Made a terrific last-ditch tackle just after the second-half on Raphinha, whom he largely got the better of throughout their one-on-one contest.
Nikola Milenkovic – 6
Made what could have been a fatal error just before half-time as the ball evaded him through to Vinicius Jr., but recovered well to get in a last-ditch tackle – it wasn’t his last. Squared up to the Real Madrid winger well alongside right-wing back Zivkovic.
Andrija Zivkovic – 6
Had it tough up against Vinicius Jr. and although the Real Madrid winger was lively and pacy throughout, he held his own. Despite that, he looked pretty knackered when he was substituted in the 57th minute.
Nemanja Gudelj – 6
Late lunge from the Sevilla midfielder on Neymar earned him a deserved yellow card just after half-time, but fortunately for him it wasn’t goal-triggering. Was notably substituted not long after. Did an admirable job braking up play in the middle of the park.
Aleksandar Mitrovic struggled to impact the game up front for Serbia
(AFP via Getty Images)
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – 5
Maintained his shape well in midfield throughout Serbia’s poised first-half display – but then found himself overrun in midfield as the second period progressed. Outshone in the stakes of: who was the better Milinkovic-Savic?
Sasa Lukic – 5
No-nonsense tackling set the tone for a dogged midfield performance in the centre of the park and he looked leggy by the time he was subbed around the hour mark.
Dusan Tadic (c) – 6
Worked his socks off but the former Southampton man was devoid of options when he received the ball in midfield and did not any glimpse of goal-threat in the second-half.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – 4
Concerns about his fitness perhaps justified? Serbia’s forward talisman failed to influence proceedings and even struggled with one of his major attributes: holding up the ball. Did not get a sniff of a chance. Was replaced with six minutes left.
Ilic – 6
Radonjic – 6
Vlahovic – 5
Lazovic – 6
Maksimovic – N/A